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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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renewable energy

Houweling’s Combined Heat and Power Project is California’s First to Qualify for Assembly Bill 1613

November 2, 2013 |
The GE J624 Two-Stage Turbocharged Gas Engine at Houweling's supplies power and heat to the company's greenhouse providing both lower carbon dioxide emissions and increased overall efficiency of over 90 Percent

The GE J624 Two-Stage Turbocharged Gas Engine at Houweling’s supplies power and heat to the company’s greenhouse providing both lower carbon dioxide emissions and increased overall efficiency of over 90 Percent

News Release – Since officially unveiling an 8.8 megawatt Combined Heat and Power (CHP) onsite energy project in August 2012, Houweling’s Tomatoes of Camarillo, CA has increased its onsite power generation capacity to 13.2 megawatts. As of November 1st, Houweling’s will be the first CHP installation to meet the requirements for participation in California Assembly Bill 1613.

AB 1613, began with a 2005 California Energy Commission (CEC) study investigating the CHP market and policy options for increased penetration in California. The result was the 2007 Waste Heat and Carbon Emissions Reduction Act, commonly referred to as AB 1613. This program operates under strict criteria designed to reduce waste energy, meet a minimum efficiency of 60%, and reach NOx emissions of no more than 0.07 pounds per megawatt-hour. Ultimately it provides qualifying projects a favorable Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the state utilities. Read More

Ag Gains as Company Transforms 2 Million Tons of Organic Waste to 29 Million Bags of Soil

March 4, 2013 |

Anaerobic digesters at Harvest Power’s Energy Garden in Bay Lake, Florida. Photo Credit: Harvest Power.

Harvest Power is about dirt. It’s also about soil regeneration and managing the modern day intersection of waste, agriculture and energy, so that ongoing human consumption can be used as the engine to drive ongoing renewable energy.

In three and a half years, CEO Paul Sellew has created a company that diverts more than two million tons of organic waste material from landfills and turns it into some 29 million bags of soil, mulch and fertilizer products while producing 65,000 megawatt hours of heat and power-generating energy to run its facilities.

Harvest Power operates in 30 sites across the U.S. and Canada, using strategic partnerships with municipalities, haulers and state-of-the-art anaerobic digesters to create high value compost that is in turn used to create more high nutrition food that can be later be recycled into the system starting the whole process over again. Read More

Water Conservation, Passion for Great Food and Sustainability Fuel Family’s Foray into Hydroponics

February 27, 2013 |

Amelia and Ben Von Kennel, owners of Amelia’s Farm in front of their 6,000 square-foot, commercial, hydroponic greenhouse. Photo Credit: Amelia’s Farm.

A simple passion for great tasting food and sustainability fueled the founding of Amelia’s Farm, a hydroponic farm based in Bells, Texas. Amelia Von Kennel, co-founder and executive vice president, and Ben Von Kennel, co-founder and chief executive officer, established the Farm in October 2011. The couple sold their house in Dallas, Texas, and moved their family ranch to Bells, Texas. Since the move, the Von Kennel’s focus has concerned strengthening the Amelia’s Farm brand, and building a 6,000 square-foot, commercial, hydroponic greenhouse. The Farm grows pesticide-free, non-GMO produce all year round.

I recently had a conversation with Amelia Von Kennel. She discussed how the couple started farming, why she and Ben value healthy food and how the Farm stays sustainable. Read More

Not Simply Organic, Oregon Farm Finds Success in Embrace of Technology and Sustainable Principles

January 30, 2013 |

Bill and Karla Chambers of Stahlbush Island Farms. Photo Credit: Stahlbush Island Farms.

When Bill and Karla Chambers founded Stahlbush Island Farms in 1985, their goal was to not only grow certified organic produce but also to integrate sustainability into all aspects of their operation. In 1997, Stahlbush Island Farms was certified sustainable by Food Alliance (FA).

“Sustainability is a journey, not an end point,” says Stahlbush Island Farms marketing executive Emily J. Hall. “It’s about having an ongoing philosophy regarding how you operate as a company, and making the right choices every day.” Read More

Gills Onions Taps Sustainable Methods to Bring Tears of Profitable Joy

January 14, 2013 |

Steven Gill, co-owner of Gills Onions in the field. Photo Credit: Gills Onions.

It’s enough to make you cry. Gills Onions is one of the largest family-owned onion farming operations in the nation. But the Oxnard-based facility doesn’t just grow the tears-provoking vegetable. They control every aspect of production from growing, harvesting, processing, packing and shipping the bulbs in handy, diced up packages to retailers, food service outlets and industrial manufacturers throughout the nation and Canada. And they do so using some surprising sustainable production practices that have lowered their operating costs over a million dollars a year.

Allen Gill had been farming in California’s Central Valley since the 1940s when he brought sons Steven and David into his Rio Farms business. Read More

Family Farm in Amesbury, MA Keeps it Local and Sustainable, Profits from Selling Close to Home

November 19, 2012 |

Glenn Cook of Cider Hill Farm. Photo: Karen Cook.

For Glenn and Karen Cook of Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, MA, sustainability is more than just a catch phrase. On their 145-acre farm the family’s composting practices have significantly increased soil organic matter. By employing solar panels and wind turbines, Cider Hill Farm also provides itself with 95% of the electricity that it needs to operate.

I recently spoke with Glenn Cook to learn more about how his family farm evolved, the challenges that it faces, and his future goals for the farm. Read More

To Power Hydroponic Operations on the Cheap, Ag Startup Seeks to Turn Wind into Water

November 12, 2012 |

Scarcity of clean water poses an enormous threat to food security around the world. Both in the developing world, including China and India, and even here in the United States, farmers increasingly face the arduous challenge of obtaining sufficient clean water to grow crops. Faced with this daunting challenge, the team behind the GreenTop platform developed an innovative system that uses wind power to capture atmospheric water moisture, which in turn is used to grow fruits and vegetables hydroponically. By creating an affordable, scalable technology that relies solely on renewable energy, the GreenTop platform enables farmers to boost food production, particularly in developing countries where the climate is arid, arable land scarce and access to clean water limited. Read More

Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center Receives $6.5M Grant for Biogas, Bioenergy Research

November 1, 2012 |

News Release — WOOSTER, Ohio — Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) has received a $6.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy to test and expand a university-developed technology that can produce biogas from a variety of solid organic wastes and bioenergy crops.

Awarded through the Biomass Research Development Initiative (BRDI), the three-year grant will also allow researchers to develop technology for converting biogas to liquid hydrocarbon fuels, with the aim of further diversifying the country’s currently available suite of renewable transportation fuels. Read More